"The neighbors all had walls and curtains to hide the things they did but we, we were exposed." - excerpt from We.: A reimagined family history
Former Poetry Slam host, c. vance, is returning to Bend from his current home in Minnesota to read from his debut novel, We: a reimagined family history.
The author, who calls his new home in Minneapolis where he works in a warehouse, "like Portland, but without hippies and with snow," grew up in Central Oregon. He hosted the monthly Bend Poetry Slam until it became the biggest slam in Oregon. He also founded Throwback Books, a defunct micro-press that specialized in limited-run, handmade chapbooks by local author Jonathan Ludwig, southern writer Jonathan Treadway and c. vance himself.
"The alley flowers bloom for every drunk who pisses on them save for me is the only thing I ever had printed before and I had to start up my own publishing company to do it," he recalls. He calls his debut novel, published by Seattle-based Jaded Ibis Press, "a retelling of c. vance's family history, abstractly, rather than using the traditional memoir form."
The Press, which publishes each of their titles in four editions, an e-book, black-and-white paperback, full-color version and a fine art limited edition, believes in combining traditional publishing formats with visual art. The Press also creates an audio track composed of music, spoken word or sound art for each book released. This is a fine marriage between Jaded Ibis and c. vance, an author whose core writing tenet revolves around pushing the boundary of both content and form in his work.
When asked to define We in a promotional video, c. vance said, "Each page is its own fable. It's all lies and none of it is true, but some of it is true and I threw in an apocalypse to make it not boring."
This is obviously not your ordinary, linear tale of family trials and tribulations ,but something more. There is a sinister, nightmare quality to some sections of We, one of which viewers read as the first-place winner in the Source fiction contest two years ago.
"The concept for the book was this feeling that my parents had when they had kids - that their world was over. So I made it literal, a slow apocalypse told in 212 one-page fables. No more than a handful are based on events. It is mostly the impression of youth and stories of older generations that are conveyed," he says about the book.
When I asked what the author is currently working on he said, "My sister is translating a novella I wrote, called The Sentence into French as I have a desire to be famous in Europe. I am also working on another book with another soft and silent apocalypse."
7pm Thursday, November 17. The Nature of Words, 224 NW Oregon Ave. Both the black-and-white and the full-color edition of his book will be on sale.